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The Fifth Quarter: Week 7 Rewind

Missouri v Georgia Getty Images

As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

WINNERS

Missouri: The Showed You State
Everybody who thought that, after Week 7 of the season, Missouri would be unbeaten and all alone in first place in the SEC East raise your hands.  Now, put ‘em down as all y’all are lying.  Yet that’s exactly where Gary Pinkel‘s Tigers find themselves Sunday morning, sporting a spotless 6-0 record overall and an East-best 2-0 mark in SEC play thanks to their win over Georgia coupled with Florida’s loss to LSU.  Yes, Mizzou’s win came at the expense of the injury-ravaged Bulldogs, but it was huge for the Tigers regardless of the circumstances and how it’s couched as the win over No. 7 UGA was the program’s first against a Top-10 team on the road since dropping No. 9 Mississippi State in October of 1981.  Let’s not pop any SEC East champagne for Mizzou quite yet, however.  The next two weeks — without starting quarterback James Franklin – the Tigers will host Florida and South Carolina in back-to-back games that could very well determine the division’s representative in the SEC championship game.  And, no, I never thought I’d be typing that sentence in relation to Mizzou, especially after a debut season in the SEC that saw the Tigers win just two conference games (Kentucky, Tennessee).

Super Mariota… again
I’m fully aware of the fact that the Heisman is not handed out in the middle of October, but, dayum.  In six games this season, Marcus Mariota has thrown for 17 touchdowns, ran for another eight… and has thrown zero interceptions in 165 attempts.  And, as if tossing down the stiff-armed gauntlet, Mariota went out Saturday and had his finest performance of the season, all things considered.  Against a Washington defense that came into the game with Oregon ranked No. 3 nationally in passing efficiency defense, Mariota carved said defense to the tune of 24-of-31 passing for 366 yards and three touchdowns.  For good measure, he added 88 yards rushing and another score.  Again, they don’t hand out the Heisman at this time of the year.  The award does, though, have a front-runner and Mariota is decidedly that.

Texas-sized Big 12 leader
It goes without saying that Texas’ 16-point beatdown of Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout qualifies as a stunner, what with the Longhorns having lost the last two rivalry games by a combined total of 80 points… and how they’ve been mired in mediocrity the past few years… and how Mack Brown‘s tenure is seemingly coming to a close.  It’s when you step back and look at the bigger picture, though, that you get the biggest jolt.  The Longhorns are currently one of three Big 12 teams with no losses in conference play, and are tied atop the standings at 3-0 with Texas Tech.  Baylor, which looked unstoppable against the lightweights on its schedule, was positively beatable on the road against Kansas State in its first real test of the season, although the Bears survived to remain that third unbeaten Big 12 team at 2-0.  Did the Longhorns save their season — and Brown’s job — Saturday?  It’s still too early to tell, especially with games against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor to close out the regular season still looming.  For now, though, the Golden Hat — and control of its own destiny in the Big 12′s race to the BCS — resides in Austin.

A Mannion’s man
Were it not for a three-point season-opening loss to Eastern Washington, Oregon State would very likely be a Twp-20 team at the moment.  And Sean Mannion might be getting the respect nationally he deserves.  Entering the game against Washington State Saturday night, the Beavers quarterback led the nation in passing yards per game (403.6) and passing touchdowns (21) through five games.  In his sixth game, Mannion did nothing but elevate his standing in both of those categories.  In helping OSU push its record to 5-1, Mannion passed for a season-high 493 yards and added four more touchdown passes as the Beavers cruised to a 52-24 win over Wazzu.  OSU, and thus Mannion, have yet to face a high-profile opponent, which has in large part led to the lack of recognition outside of Corvallis.  With games against Stanford (Oct. 26), Washington (Nov. 23) and the Civil War with Oregon (Nov. 29), Mannion will have plenty of opportunity to state his case nationally.  Provided he can rise to that level of competition, of course.

Brian FantanaBOB’s Big Ones
Bill O’Brien had already seen four missed field goals from the end of regulation through the first three overtimes against Michigan, including one off the foot of his own kicker.  Down by three and facing a fourth and one, O’Brien eschewed the field goal attempt that would’ve sent the game into a fifth overtime and instead grabbed his James Westfall and Doctor Kenneth Noisewater.  A Bill Belton three-yard run got the first down and, four plays later, Belton scooted across from two yards out to knock the Wolverines from the ranks of the unbeatens.  O’Brien should be applauded for both having the guts to make that call at that juncture and for his awareness of the energy that had been expended by his Nittany Lions creating a need to not extend the game.

Rebounding with a vengeance
Just 10 days ago, Travis Wilson had a six-pack of picks that was largely responsible for Utah’s seven-point loss to No. 11 UCLA.  Against No. 5 Stanford, the Utes quarterback went out and totally redeemed himself.  While he threw another interception, Wilson was otherwise outstanding, completing 23-of-34 passes for 234 yards and a pair of critical first-quarter touchdowns that put the unbeaten Cardinal on notice… and helped drop them from undefeated and controlling their own destiny to one of the myriad one-loss teams that will need help getting back in the national title hunt.  Redemption is an awe-inspiring thing, especially when it’s a college kid on the receiving end one game later against one of the best teams in the country.

Riding the Green Wave
Coming off a disastrous two-win 2012 season, there were some calling for the head of head coach Curtis Johnson after just one year at Tulane.  Nearly a year later, those same people are very likely singing Johnson’s praises.  You see, the Green Wave has won five of its first seven games this season, including a thrilling triple-overtime win over East Carolina Saturday evening.  It’s the first time since 2004 that Tulane has won more than four games in a single season, and the Green Wave still has five games remaining to win one game and become bowl eligible for the first time since 2002.  On top of all of that, Tulane is tied for the Conference USA West lead with Rice.  The individuals wanting Johnson gone last year may get their wish 12 months late; thanks to Tulane’s play, Johnson’s name will likely come up for various vacancies across the country in the coming months.

Army strongTerry Baggett , Donald Coleman
Yeah, I’ll go ahead and say it: Terry Baggett does more before 3 p.m. than most running backs do all season.  Or something like that.  In the Black Knights’ 50-25 win over Eastern Michigan, the junior rushed for 304 yards on just 18 carries and added four scores on the ground for good measure.  Baggett came into the matchup with 440 yards and two touchdowns in the first six games of the season.  The 304 yards are an academy record, part of which came on a 96-yard touchdown run.  In closing, go Baggett and go ‘Merica…

LOSERS

Nov. 7
That day on the football calendar was shaping up to be arguably the best and most important Thursday in college football history.  Oregon at Stanford and Oklahoma at Baylor had most prognosticators pointing to it during the preseason as the day where the chase for the BCS would really begin to take shape.  Now?  Not so much thanks to Oklahoma’s blowout loss to Texas and Stanford’s stunning loss on the road to Utah.  Those games will still be important, especially as it pertains to the respective conference races, but it has certainly lost a lot of luster as far as the national stage is concerned because of Saturday’s events.

Bears are human after all
Through the first four games of its season, Baylor was the darling of the national media.  Averaging a nation’s best 781 yards per game (Oregon was next at 630) and scoring 70-plus points a contest, the Bears were the shiny thing dangled in front of a giddy toddler.  Of course, those gaudy stats came against Wofford, Buffalo, Louisiana-Monroe and West Virginia.  In their first real test of the season against Kansas State?  The gaudy numbers dissipated, but the winning didn’t.  The Bears were held to season-lows in total offense (445 yards), rushing (114) and points (35), but still managed to go into always-tough Manhattan and escape back to Waco with a 10-point conference win over the Wildcats.  The Bears may have been exposed, and K-State may have provided a blueprint for future Big 12 opponents to at least slow down the high-powered attack, but they showed a resiliency they haven’t needed all season long.  And that might be more impressive than any of the video game-like numbers they had put up through the first one-third of the regular season.

South Carolina v ArkansasKarma indeed
Very shortly after Wisconsin’s controversial loss to Arizona State in mid-September, Jen Bielema, the wife of former UW and current Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema, tweeted “#karma” in the general direction of the Badgers and their fans.  While I’m certain it’s merely coincidence — or the “k” word — the Razorbacks, after winning their first three games pre-tweet, have now lost four straight since Mrs. Bielema typed out the five-letter word and sent it hurtling out into the Twittersphere.  Punctuating the losing streak was Saturday’s humbling 45-point loss to South Carolina, the third straight SEC loss for Bielema by a combined total of 77 points.  Strong with this one, the karma is.

The Lane Kiffin Error Era
If you wanted to sum up Lane Kiffin‘s time at USC, these five words would just about do it: “The players have hope now.”  Those were the words of USC athletic director Pat Haden, and they came shortly after the Trojans upended Arizona in the USC interim debut of Ed Orgeron.  It was far from pretty, but there was an exuberance, an excitement that had been lacking for years under Kiffin and, to be honest, under the weight of NCAA sanctions.  Pulling the plug on Kiffin’s tenure as head coach was seen as a necessary move.  And, as it turns out, it was a refreshing one for the entire program as well. “You should have been in the locker room before the game, I’ve never seen anything like it. Guys were having a blast,” Haden, again, said afterwards.  The win was one thing; the words coming from those in and around the football program were a damning indictment of everything that’s gone in in the Land of Troy the past three-plus seasons, even if it did humble the Arrogant One.

Airror Force
The Air Force football program has officially hit rock bottom.  Leading San Diego State by 14 with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter Thursday night, the Falcons gave up 21 straight points in a 10-minute span to snatch defeat from the jaws of defeat.  The service academy is now 1-6, its worst start since going 1-6 to begin the 1993 season.  With an Oct. 26 game against Notre Dame on the horizon, the Falcons could very well be staring in the face of their worst start to a season since going 1-6-1 in 1980.

TOP 25 TOO-CLOSE-FOR-COMFORT
How ranked teams endured close shaves vs. unranked opponents

– No. 3 Clemson 24, Boston College 14: The Tigers needed 14 fourth-quarter points to avoid an infamous Clemsoning.  We’ll just chalk this up to looking ahead to the titanic matchup with Florida State next weekend and move on.

– No. 8 Louisville 24, Rutgers 10: Thanks to a pillowy soft schedule, the Cardinals need to take its opponents to the woodshed each and every time they step on the field.  That didn’t happen Thursday night, which has caused some to already write off the UofL’s BCS title game hopes.  While that’s debatable, the Cardinals will likely see themselves lose ground in the polls again this week.

Texas A&M v Mississippi– No. 9 Texas A&M 41, Ole Miss 38: In a wildly entertaining game, the Aggies needed a field goal as time expired to stay unbeaten on the road under Kevin Sumlin.  Of course, the win was due in large part to Johnny Football, who totaled 470 yards of total offense (346 passing, 124 rushing) in a performance that will keep him in the Heisman repeat mix.  That defense, though, is still an area of major concern and will likely bite the Aggies again at some point before the regular season ends.

– No. 15 Baylor 35, Kansas State 25: The Bears needed a real test and, after a hiccup up or two that nearly cost them an unblemished record.  the Waco Kids earned a passing grade.

– No. 20 Texas Tech 42, Iowa State 35:  The Red Raiders muddled through the first three quarters against the one-win Cyclones, tied at halftime and leading by just a touchdown entering the fourth.  Tech did, though, become the first bowl-eligible team in the Big 12 so they have that going for them, which is good.

– No. 23 Northern Illinois 27, Akron 20:  Hey, the one-win Zips nearly knocked off Michigan in the Big House earlier this year.  It happens.

– No. 24 Virginia Tech 19, Pittsburgh 9: I’m putting this game here solely to highlight the Hokies’ defense as Tech allowed the Panthers just 23 yards rushing on 26 carries.  All told, Pitt was only able to must 210 yards of offense against a team that’s quietly ripped off six straight wins since its 25-point loss to Alabama to open the season.

CFT TOP FIVE
A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Monday if I, ya know, had a real vote instead of a measly and meaningless preseason poll.

1. Alabama — After a scoreless first quarter against Kentucky, I very nearly dropped the Tide below Oregon.  Then the second quarter and on happened and my goodness did the Tide roll, putting up 668 yards of offense and 48 points in a 41-point throttling of the Wildcats. (Last week: No. 1)
Next up: vs. Arkansas

Oregon v Washington2. Oregon — Even with Alabama rolling (eventually) against a below-average Kentucky team, I was still (very) tempted to allow the Ducks to leapfrog the consensus No. 1 team in the country thanks to the virtuoso performance against arguably the best two-loss team in the country in Washington.  I couldn’t pull the trigger this week, but can’t promise a repeat if the Ducks continue mowing down the competition. (Last week: No. 2)
Next up: vs. Washington State

3. Clemson — Despite eking by a very average Boston College team in Clemson’s version of Death Valley, the Tigers are still a very good football team.  Get a huge win over you-know-how Saturday, and they’ll elbow themselves right into the Alabama-Oregon mix. (Last week: No. 3)
Next up: vs. No. 6 Florida State

4. Ohio State — The Buckeyes were on a bye, and may benefit somewhat in the polls thanks to Clemson’s sleepwalk against BC.  Northwestern getting throttled by Wisconsin and Michigan losing to Penn State, however, is very bad long-term for OSU. (Last week: No. 4)
Next up: vs. Iowa

5. Florida State — The Cardinal’s loss is the Seminoles’ gain.  A bye week for FSU allowed them to heal up for its Game of the Century against you-know-who Saturday. (Last week: unranked)
Next up: at No. 3 Clemson

(Dropped from the rankings: No. 5 Stanford)

HE SAID IT
“I do feel badly for Arkansas. That’s no fun getting your butt beat at home, homecoming and all that.” — Steve Spurrier, after South Carolina went into Fayetteville and spanked the Razorbacks 52-7.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“We sit back and let y’all bash us and bash our coaches. … There comes a time when you put a chip on your shoulder.” — Texas quarterback Case McCoy.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“I’m looking forward to the next 30 minutes, because the first 30 minutes sucked.” — Pat Fitzgerald, after watching Northwestern fall behind Wisconsin 21-6 in the first half.  The next 30 minutes weren’t much better for the Wildcats as the final score ended up 35-6.

HE SAID IT, BONUS EDITION
“Yeah, playing your ass off.” — Texas co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Major Applewhite, when asked if an offensive identity had emerged for the Longhorns.

HE SAID IT, LES MILES EDITION
[See extended version below]

PHOTO OF THE WEEK
As a huge fan of NASCAR, count me among those who were absolutely thrilled with the reports that a future Tennessee-Virginia Tech game will be played at Bristol Motor Speedway.  Having been to that short track — the August night race should be on any sports fan’s bucket list — I can see exactly how and why both the track and the schools would want to play in the modern-day motorized Colosseum.  Have you wondered, though, what it will look like?  Thanks to @NeylandStadium, we have a little perspective:

Bristol Neyland

That, folks, is Neyland Stadium sitting inside the .533-mile Bristol Motor Speedway.  And that, folks, is freaking spectacular, even as I understand that some/most of the sight lines and vantage points won’t be optimal compared to playing in a stadium designed for football.

That said, I absolutely cannot wait to see — and possibly be a part of — that atmosphere.

Oh, and before you ask, no, ball carriers won’t be allowed to only make cuts to the left in that game.

SAY WHAT?
For the first time in the football program’s storied history, Alabama had a 300-yard passer (AJ McCarron‘s career-high 359 yards) and two 100-yard rushers (T.J. Yeldon, 16-124-2; Kenyan Drake, 14-106-2) in the same game.

TRUE STORY
From the Clemson Sports Information Department: Clemson’s defense held the nation’s leading rusher in Andre Williams to just 70 yards rushing and a 2.9 yards-per-carry average. He had entered the game averaging 153.6 rushing yards per game and 5.8 yards per carry.

FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY

– Thanks to losses by Michigan, Oklahoma and Stanford, there are now 14 teams at the FBS level with no losses this season.  The ACC has the most unbeatens at this juncture with three (Clemson, Florida State and Miami), while the Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC have two apiece.  On the flip side, and with UMass dropping still winless Miami (Ohio), there are eight teams remaining who have yet to win a game in 2013.  Two of the Unfortunate Octet reside in the American Athletic Conference.

Boston College v Clemson– Clemson’s Tajh Boyd threw for 334 yards in the close win over Boston College to become the all-time leader in passing yards in Clemson history with 9,836 yards. He also moved in to fourth place in ACC history in the same category and into second place in carer 300-yard passing games (14).

Brett Hundley passed for 409 yards and three touchdowns to help unbeaten UCLA to a 37-10 win over Cal.

– Stanford wide receiver Ty Montgomery accounted for 296 all-purpose yards: 160 on kickoff returns, 131 receiving and five rushing.

– Jonathan Gray rushed for 123 yards and Malcolm Brown for 120 in Texas’ win over Oklahoma; it marked the first time UT has seen two players go over the century mark against OU.

– Washington’s Bishop Sankey, who entered the game fourth nationally in rushing yards per game at 146.4, rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to Oregon.

– Louisiana Monroe’s Isaiah Newsome became just the second player in Sun Belt Conference history to return two interceptions for touchdowns in the same game. The senior also broke the SBC record for interception return yardage in a single game with 146.

– Playing in place of the injured Baker MayfieldDavis Webb threw for 415 yards and three TDs in leading Texas Tech over Iowa State 42-35.

David Fales passed for 431 yards and three touchdowns in San Jose State’s 34-27 win over Colorado State.

– Coming off a concussion, Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage was sacked eight times in the loss to Virginia Tech.

– Utah’s win over No. 5 Stanford was the Utes’ first-ever over a team that entered the game ranked in the Top Five.  It was also the program’s first win over a team in the Top 10 since 1973.

– Florida extended its streak of holding SEC opponents under 20 points to 13 straight games against LSU, the longest in the conference.  Unfortunately, while the Gators held the Tigers to 17, they were held to six in the loss.

– Very enlightening stat from Jon Solomon of al.com: the past 14 games, Auburn has started five different quarterbacks.  Alabama has started three different quarterbacks the past 80 games.  Speaking of the Tigers…

– Auburn rolled up a school-record 712 yards of total offense in the Tigers’ 62-3 win over FCS-level Western Carolina.  Included in that total was 511 yards rushing on 43 carries, with nine different players credited with carries.

– Michigan State came into its game against Indiana as the No. 1 rush defense in the country, giving up an average of 51.2 yards per game; on the fourth play from scrimmage, the Hoosiers’ Tevin Coleman raced 64 yards right up the gut for a touchdown.  The rest of the game, however, the Spartans allowed just 28 yards on 26 carries in the 42-28 win.

– USF hasn’t scored an offensive touchdown the last two games… and have won both of those contests.  They are the first team ever at the FBS level to pull that trick in back-to-back weeks.

– Northern Illinois has now won 23 straight games at home, the longest such streak in the country.

– In a shout-out to the FCS, Fordham is 6-0 for the first time in a staggering 83 years.

IN CLOSING…
Les Miles
has, how shall we say it, a very unique and special relationship with the English language.  As the latest — and one of the best — example of that relationship, we leave you with the following transcript courtesy of CoachingSearch.com – the video’s HERE — in which Miles responds to a reporter stating that Florida was the hammer and LSU was the nail last season, with the roles being reversed this year.  Enjoy, and good night y’all:

“I’ve got a question for you. It was a 14-6 game. We played our asses off. How anybody could pick the hammer and the nail, when in fact, that hammer or nail, we catch a ball down there, we’re fixing to take the lead, and we turn it over. Explain to me how Kevin Minter, who set the damn near career tackle record in that game, how anybody could say hammer and nail?

“I can tell you right now, here’s what happens: Two very quality teams take the field and compete like a son of a bitch for victory. You know what? It’s not a hammer and a nail relationship. It’s an opportunity for an opponent to be equal and to raise their level of play in such a fashion that they win. That’s how this thing works. In fact, you respect the opponent. He’s not the hammer and he’s not the frickin’ nail, OK? He’s the opponent. You understand?

“I’m just letting you know, I resent that. I resent the fact that suddenly, we were nail, you got it? Honest to Pete. We were a pretty good team last year. I thought we played like a son of a bitch in that stadium. I’m just letting you know, I felt differently than the nail, so you know.”

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Fresno State locks up Tim DeRuyter through 2018

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl - Fresno State v USC

Fresno State has locked up head coach Tim DeRuyter to a contract extension running through the 2018 season. The contract includes incentives for academic and competition goals as well as a bump in base salary. The contract includes a buyout clause as well.

“We are elated and encouraged with the tremendous success that Bulldog football has achieved under Tim’s leadership these past two years,” Fresno State athletics director Thomas Boeh said in a released statement. “The execution of these agreements illustrate Fresno State’s clear commitment to establishing stability within the program on behalf of our student-athletes and the Red Wave.”

According to the contract terms shared by Fresno State, DeRuyter will receive a base salary of $1.4 million in 2014 and a $500,000 increase each year through the 2018 season, resulting in a base salary of $1.6 million in 2018. The buyout clause would cost DeRuyter $2.8 million prior to the conclusion of the 2014 season and is cut in half next year. The buyout reduces to $1 million before the end of the 2016 season and $700,000 before the end of the 2017 season.

DeRuyter led Fresno State to a record of 20-6 in his first two seasons as head coach of the program. Last season Fresno State won its first outright Mountain West Conference championship and second straight conference championship after splitting the previous season with Boise State and San Diego State.

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QB Brandon Connette tweets he is a Fresno State Bulldog

Brandon Connette

As expected, quarterback Brandon Connette will join Fresno State after transferring from Duke. Connette was looking to transfer to be closer to his family at home in California. Fresno State was thought to be a likely destination and a visit there this week was expected to result in the decision becoming final.

Connette took to his Twitter account to announce the news himself.

Connette has one final year of eligibility to play and will be eligible to play right away for Fresno State. Because he will be a graduate of Duke, he will be allowed to play right away according to NCAA transfer rules.

Connette would have been a productive player in Duke’s offense if decided to stay, but Connette’s decision to transfer is strictly influenced by the health of his mother. Connette’s mother was diagnosed with brain cancer in December.

Duke head coach David Cutcliffe had nothing but positive things to say about Connete this week during a conference call of ACC football coaches with the media, nor should he. Connette would have been a productive player in Duke’s offense had he stayed for another run at a division title in the fall in Durham, but this decision to transfer had everything to do with family. Connette’s mother was diagnosed with brain cancer in December, and rather than spend his final year of eligibility on the other side of the country, family clearly comes first in this situation.

As far as football is concerned though, Connette will have a chance to compete for a starting job at Fresno State. The Bulldogs look to replace record-setting Derek Carr under center. Connette will not put up the same kind of numbers Carr leaves behind, but the Bulldogs will have an option with experience capable of contributing to the offense right away.

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Coaches can now make summer workouts officially mandatory

Anthony Zettel

College football players may have more demands placed n them over the summer months, depending on the head coach’s demands. According to The Oklahoman, summer workouts are now allowed to be mandatory if a coach desires it.

Updated NCAA bylaws now allow members of a coaching staff to supervise mandatory summer workouts, up to eight hours per week. These workouts were previously voluntary for all, but pressure to participate in those sessions always existed according to at least one former football player.

“As plain Jane as I can put it, we all knew that in the summer time, you’re gonna take six college hours (of classes), and you’re gonna go through eight weeks of summer (training),” J.D. Runnels, a former Oklahoma fullback, said to The Oklahoman. “There’s not even talk of what’s voluntary and what’s mandatory.”

There is obviously a benefit to allowing coaches extra access to players during the offseason. That extra time supervising workouts and training allows for more interaction and time to focus on key areas of development and improvement. Programs that take advantage of the extra eight hours — and there are programs that will take advantage of the extra time available — could stand to have a more physical and well-conditioned team.

The question is, because players are not paid and we are in the midst of a potential union movement, is it a good idea to allow coaches to take this sort of formal power? What does this say for the entire concept of amateurism, or does it say nothing at all one way or the other?

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Report: Big 12 and Pac-12 heading south of the border?

Todd Graham

College football could be taking a trip south of the border if the powers that be at ESPN, the Pac-12 and Big 12 have anything to say about it. ESPN president John Skipper alluded to the concept being discussed during the Football Bowl Association meeting, as reported by Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com.

“Keep your eye on it,” Skipper said, according to Dodd. Oh, we will keep an eye out for it of course.

The idea of playing college football in Mexico is not a new one. Earlier this year Texas Athletics Director Steve Patterson detailed plans and ideas to grow the Texas brand beyond the border by potentially moving a game to Mexico City. That would likely require finding a partner willing to move a home game because the odds Texas would move a home game are likely slim at best. But that could potentially change if a television partner with deep pockets is willing to make it financially incentive even for a school like Texas. Money has a way of talking, and if the price is right almost any school would seriously consider the possibility, even a school like Texas.

But Texas is only one option of course. No teams have specifically been mentioned or rumored at this time, and it is important to remember no game in Mexico has been announced yet either. But the pieces and partners willing to put heads together could be in place in the Big 12 and Pac-12. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is a bit of a visionary as well and has previously discussed the idea of reaching the Pac-12 brand across the Pacific Ocean into Asia. A trip south may be a good start for extending relationships on an international level.

Arizona State vs. Texas, with a side of salsa? Yes, please.

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Northwestern will get to appeal to NLRB over union ruling

Northwestern acted quickly in stating its intention to challenge the ruling made by a regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. The university will get a chance to present its case to the NLRB, which decided Thursday it will listen to what the university has to say. The NLRB previously ruled in favor of Northwestern football players, stating they should be recognized by Northwestern as university employees.

Northwestern argues that scholarship players on the football team are not to be considered employees under the National Labor Relations act. If the university can sell its case, the NLRB could overrule the previous decision by the regional office in Chicago, which would then block the football players from establishing a formal union. The university had plans to challenge the ruling from the start of this whole process, so it is certainly no surprise.

Given the right to form a union, Northwestern football players are scheduled to vote on forming an official union on Friday. That vote will still be held, but the votes will be held and the results of the voting will be revealed after the NLRB hears the appeal from the university. The NLRB denies the appeal of the university, the union movement will continue at Northwestern if it receives enough votes.

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NCAA Board of Directors endorse restructuring for autonomy

The NCAA took one important step toward moving to a new power structure allowing for autonomy to yield more power to the most powerful conferences. The Division I Board of Directors endorsed a restructuring process that would be more equipped to handle the changing landscape of collegiate athletics and provide for a larger voice representing the student-athletes to be heard.

“The model we sent to the membership today is not a final product,” said Wake Forest President Nathan Hatch, chair of the board and the steering committee. “Some aspects of the model remain under discussion, and we hope the membership will provide us further input.”

The Board of Directors, comprised of university presidents, will now await feedback from all member schools before planning to adopt the new governance structure in August. There has been widespread support for a new system that would grant the power conferences — the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC — more power to operate under a slightly different set of rules the other divisions and conferences would be governed. This would, in theory, allow those conferences to hold separate votes regarding cost of attendance for scholarships, insurance, travel restrictions and more.

Per the NCAA;

Areas in which the membership generally agrees on autonomy for the five conferences include:

  • financial aid, including full cost of attendance and scholarship guarantees;

  • insurance, including policies that protect future earnings;

  • academic support, particularly for at-risk student-athletes; and

  • other support, such as travel for families, free tickets to athletics events, and expenses associated with practice and competition (such as parking).

The timing of this news should not go unnoticed. On Friday football players at Northwestern are scheduled to cast their votes on unionizing, a right previously granted by a ruling by a regional office of the National Labor Relations Committee. Will this latest development in the changing of the power structure at the NCAA have any last-second impact on the Northwestern vote? Probably not, but it should not be considered a coincidence the new structure at the NCAA looks to leave a seat open at the table for the student-athletes.

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Report: Cal’s Ted Agu died of heart failure

Cal defensive lineman Ted Agu collapsed during an offseason workout earlier this spring and died as a result of a heart condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The condition, according to a report by San Francisco Chronicle, is a relatively common cause of death among athletes.

Victims of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy have excessive thickening of heart muscle, which makes it more difficult for blood to pump through the heart. In most cases the problem is undiagnosed because there are few symptoms that can be picked up on even during a careful medical exam. The condition can lead to normal lives for most people, but athletes tend to see the most sever problems due to the increased physical activity requiring a more efficient blood flow.

Agu collapsed in February while working through a training run. The Cal medical team attempted CPR on Agu but he died while being transported to a nearby medical center. The school has since started up a memorial scholarship fund in Agu’s name and honor.

Agu’s death was the subject of arguments by Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema when discussing up-tempo offenses. Bielema’s comments were scolded by Cal AD Sandy Barbour and Bielema later apologized for his comments.

Helmet sticker to Dr. Saturday.

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Mississippi State player suspended following arrest for suspected burglary

Auburn v Mississippi State

Mississippi State defensive lineman Jordan Washington was arrested Wednesday afternoon for suspicion of residential burglary and robbery by threats. Mississippi State has already responded by placing an indefinite suspension on the sophomore. Former Mississippi State player Charles Siddoway was arrested and jailed on the same charge. The news was first reported by Starkville Daily News.

Washington did not play for Washington State in 2013 mostly due to injury concerns, and sat out his freshman year in 2012 with a redshirt season. Washington was a three-star recruit out of the powerful North Gwinnet High School program according to his Rivals profile.

Siddoway is hoping to be drafted in the upcoming NFL Draft, but an arrest so close to the big day could hurt whatever draft stock he had going in if the charges are upheld. Siddoway is regarded as one of the top 20 offensive tackles in the draft, depending on which draft scout or service you prefer. That would likely project to a late-round draft pick. If a charge of this magnitude holds up, Siddoway may have to hope he can sign on as an undrafted free agent once this legal issue is behind him.

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ACC Network would hypothetically clone SEC Network set-up

John Swofford

An ACC Network would likely mimic the set-up of the SEC Network according to ACC documents shared by the University of Maryland.

The ACC and Maryland are still in an ongoing legal dispute as the institution prepares to leave for the Big Ten later this season. As part of the legal battle Maryland has turned over documentation from the ACC to support its case. Part of that evidence submitted by Maryland included a market analysis report focusing on the ACC and comparing the conference to other top conferences around the country. The various categories in the analysis included academic standings, geographic footprints and population and football and basketball recruiting. The report also takes a look at television potential for the ACC.

The market analysis report notes there are more potential television households within the expanded ACC footprint with the additions of Louisville and Notre Dame than any other conference, including the Big Ten and SEC and the ACC owns more of the top 30 TV markets in the country than any other conference as well. Each of the major conferences has a similar national television deal, but the ACC is lacking in regional coverage compared to some of the other conferences, but the report suggests if there is interest and incentive to add an ACC Network, then ESPN would be prepared to work with the conference to make it a reality. Furthermore, any deal with ESPN to launch an ACC Network would follow a similar model currently used by the SEC for the SEC Network.

We know the benefits of a successful cable sports network that could be obtained. The Big Ten has seen a great financial benefit from the addition of the Big Ten Network and the future prospects of the SEC Network are expected to be rich. Could an ACC Network see similar results? The structure and support would be there if ESPN was a part of the foundation, but the ACC may be a bit top-heavy when it comes to football and the overall fanbases in the Big Ten and SEC are something the ACC may not be able to compete with from top to bottom.

Helmet sticker to The Washington Post.

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UCF QB ruled eligible for 2014 season following transfer

Nick Patti, Mark Nzeocha

The competition to replace Blake Bortles at UCF just got one more candidate for the job this fall. The NCAA has ruled Nick Patti will be eligible for the 2014 season after transferring from Boise State.

The Orlando Sentinel reported Patti was given a hardship waiver by the NCAA, which allows him to begin playing immediately instead of sitting out a season under typical NCAA transfer rules. He will jump right in the fray of the competition to replace Bortles, a projected first round draft pick in the upcoming NFL Draft who led the Golden Knights to a conference championship and Fiesta Bowl victory last season.

UCF head coach George O’Leary has not settle don a starting quarterback at this point and expects to let the competition play out over the summer leading up to the season opener against Penn State in Ireland.

Patti appeared in six games for Boise State last season and he completed eight of 11 pass attempts for 63 yards. Patti is originally from Orlando, so perhaps a return home could be just what he needs to take the leading role. He has two years of eligibility remaining.

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Utah fight song might get new lyrics

Stanford v Utah

Students at most universities likely know the words to the fight song more than they do the alma mater. Now the students at Utah may have to re-learn some of the words to the fight song.

Earlier this week student government organizations at Utah voted in favor of changing lyrics to the school fight song that some deemed offensive. The changes are not official yet, but now are likely to be approved. This should come as little surprise, as the lyrics were written in 1904 and declare those singing to be a Utah Man. The changes are minor and will not require a brand new composition and sheet music, but the proposed changes will help bring the fight song into a more politically correct state in the 21st century.

The line that sings “Our coeds are the finest” has been considered sexist and racist by some and the university is now prepared to modify that specific line to avoid any problems. One of the possible changes to the line could read “our students are the brightest,” according to The Desert News. Any reference to “Utah man” could easily be switched to “Utah fan” without disrupting the fight song’s theme or rhymes.

“I don’t want to get rid of tradition, I love tradition, I just want a more inclusive tradition,” said student body president Sam Ortiz, who sponsored the measure, as quoted by The Salt Lake Tribune. “I’m incredibly happy that our student leaders stepped up and made a difficult decision.”

What other fight songs could be in need of a 21st century jump in political correctness?

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Florida two-way player Hawkins will transfer

Will Muschamp AP

Florida is losing a player who can play on both sides of the football to a transfer. According to a report by The Gainesville Sun, redshirt freshman Marqui Hawkins is leaving the Gators and will transfer to another football program. Hawkins could play wide receiver and safety.

“I’m just looking for a better opportunity and somewhere I can play offense. I’d also like to be closer to home,” Hawkins said in a story by The Gainesville Sun. “I had a great time at Florida and learned a lot. Nothing against the school, I just needed a fresh start.”

According to the report, Hawkins says he has been granted a full release from his scholarship and Florida and has been given no restrictions on where he may play next. That would leave any suitable SEC program as an option if there is a program with a spot available for Hawkins.

Florida has plenty of wide receiver son the 204 roster, 15 to be exact, so the depth at the position is not taking too much of a hit based solely on numbers. The Gators list 14 players at defensive back, where Hawkins is officially listed, as well after the loss of Hawkins. The Gators are still on the prowl for players who can make plays on offense though. Florida’s offense has lacked game-breakers on offense the last few years. Hawkins was not going to be that solution in all likelihood though, so Will Muschamp‘s search continues for someone to step up on Florida’s offense in 2014.

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Iowa State D-lineman does a 180, rejoins team for final season

Oklahoma State v Iowa State Getty Images

Per ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, Iowa State nose guard Brandon Jensen has rejoined the Cyclones after leaving the team this winter.

Jensen started all 12 games for Iowa State last fall and notched 18 tackles, four TFLs and one sack, but considered leaving Ames soon after the season ended. The 6-foot-5, 301-pound native of Ankeny, Iowa, has played in 36 games over his career and has one year of eligibility remaining.

Jensen’s return should be welcome news for coach Paul Rhoads, who saw defensive lineman Nick Kron leave the program as well after the Cyclones went 3-9 in 2013.

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Vince Young has a job waiting for him at Texas

National Championship Rose Bowl: USC v Texas Getty Images

Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of Texas’ last college football title — you know, the one capped by this — and there’s a chance Vince Young could be working for his old school when that celebration begins.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the ex-Longhorns quarterback has a job waiting for him at Texas once he officially ends his playing career — which could be soon, given the former No. 3 overall pick remains a free agent. Young told the Chronicle his role would be an an ambassador for the Texas, but it certainly couldn’t hurt Charlie Strong’s program to have the Longhorns’ last championship-winning quarterback hanging around Austin.

Young said he’s received interest from a few unspecified NFL teams but won’t play in the CFL if that interest doesn’t amount to anything.

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Ridiculously early point spreads have ‘Bama by 24, FSU by 11.5 in openers

Nick Saban AP

With just over four months until the 2014 season begins, apparently it’s time for some early betting lines. And while Alabama hasn’t settled on a quarterback yet, no matter: Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide at 24-point favorites over West Virginia for the teams’ Aug. 30 curtain-lifter in Atlanta (via 5dimes.eu).

For the 36th straight game, Florida State is favored — this time by 11.5 over Oklahoma State at AT&T Stadium.

Just scanning this, a few lines jump out, like Tennessee only giving 5.5 points to Utah State at home (Utah State, remember, was actually a pretty good team last year and should get QB Chuckie Keeton back for the 2014 season). Ole Miss is 8.5-point favorites over Boise State, and South Carolina is favored by nine for its Thursday opener against Texas A&M.

Of course, it’s still April and these lines certainly will do some changing between now and Aug. 28/Aug. 30. Case in point: In the hour or so since we published these, the Tennessee line jumped from -5.5 to -6.5, and the Bama line went from -24 to -23.5.

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